Creating and Securing Your Digital Identity
Digital Identity: Concepts and Elements Click to read
What is a Digital Identity?
A digital identity is commonly understood as a unique connection between an entity and its online presence.
à one-to-one relationship
Your digital identity is established through your online presence and is developed through interactions and thus activities.
This concept goes beyond the mere user’s one as it delves deeper into the intricacies of individual’s digital presence.
While a user represents anyone actually engaging on digital platforms, the digital identity refers to the specific attributes, profiles and reputation associated with the aforementioned digital presence.
This one-to-one relationship between an entity and its online presence is a data-based relationship.
Indeed, digital identity encompasses data and information utilised by computer systems to refer to external entities, such as persons, organisations, applications, devices.
FOCUS ON INDIVIDUALS
Individuals establish their digital identity through the compilation of various data points, resulting in personally identifiable information (PII). These latter include personal details, credentials, and entitlements associated with individuals' online presence and activities.
By comprehending the underlying principles and elements of digital identity, individuals can make informed decisions about their digital interactions and take necessary measures to protect their privacy and security online.
Let’s discover the elements that contribute to your digital identity.
- Addresses and numbers (physical and not)
- Biometric data
- Authentication mechanisms
- Security questions
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Professional networking (LinkedIn, etc.)
- Online forums and communities
- Blog or website
- Search history
- Website visit logs
- Online purchases and transactions
- Social media posts, reactions and comments
- Privacy controls on social media
- Who can see your posts and profile information
- Data collection by third-party apps and websites
- Opting out of targeted advertising
- Feedback and reviews
- Endorsements and recommendations on network’s sites
- Reactions and comments on own posts
- Online presence in news article or blogs
These elements are summarised in what a person…
- Privacy Settings
- Digital Footprint
- Online Reputation
Establishment and Safeguard of Your Online Presence Click to read
Building your online presence allows interaction with others, sharing of interest, and engagement in the digital world.
According to the World Bank (ID4D Practitioner’s Guide, 2019), the basic structure of the digital identity and identification process is based on:
Verifying and consolidating pertinent identity information to establish an individual’s digital presence
Assessing the authenticity of and individual’s claimed identity through the examination of one or multiple personal details (or PII)
Validating specific attributes to determine the authorisation or eligibility of an individual to participate
By virtue of the elements – what a person is, knows, has and does – and the structure of the digital identity and identification, here are some advice (A), tips (T) and methods (M) for each key concept in building your online presence.
- A: Only share necessary personal information online, such as your name, email address, and professional details
- T: Avoid sharing your home address, phone number, or other sensitive information unless necessary. Consider using pseudonyms or initials instead of full names where appropriate
- M: Use discretion when filling out online forms, social media profiles, and registration pages. Provide information on a need-to-know basis
- A: Create strong passwords that are difficult for others to guess
- T: Use a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters in your passwords. Avoid using common words, sequential numbers or personal references. Consider using passphrases
- M: Utilise password management tools, such as LastPass or KeePass, to generate and store complex passwords securely. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible for an additional layer of security
- A: Tailor your online profiles to reflect your professional image and goals
- T: Highlight your skills, experiences, and achievements relevant to your desired online presence. Use keywords and industry-specific terminology to enhance visibility
- M: Regularly update your profiles to stay current and engage with relevant online communities
- A: Be mindful of the content you share online and its potential impact
- T: Think twice before posting anything. Consider the potential long-term consequences of your online activities
- M: Regularly search for your name and review your digital footprint. Set up alerts to receive and check notifications when people interact with you and your digital identity
- A: Understand and utilise the privacy settings available on different platforms
- T: Review and customise privacy settings to match your desired level of online visibility and data collection. Limit access to personal information to trusted connections and on a need basis
- M: Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings of social media platforms, email services, websites, apps, and other online accounts. Regularly check and adjust your privacy preferences as needed
- A: Cultivate a positive online reputation through your online interactions and activities
- T: Be respectful and professional in your online communications. Engage in constructive discussions and avoid engaging in negative or controversial behaviour
- M: Participate in forums, contribute valuable content, and maintain a consistent and professional tone in your online interactions. Regularly monitor your online presence by searching for your name and be proactive in removing or requesting the removal of any unwanted or damaging content associated with your name
Practicing Responsible Online Behaviour
Nuances of Effective Digital Communication Click to read
Clear and Concise Communication is essential in the digital world as people have limited attention spans and receive numerous messages daily. à Get straight to the point and avoid lengthy explanations.
Example: Prefer “Could you please send me the report by EOD?” to “I wanted to ask if you could provide me with the report by the end of the day”. Note: EOD stands for “end of the day”.
Although this rule is generally valid, keep in mind that different models of digital communication require different approaches. For instance, e-mail is typically used for formal or detailed conversations, while instant messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, etc.) is more suitable for quick exchanges.
Example: If you need to discuss a complex project with multiple stakeholders, sending an e-mail with a detailed breakdown of tasks and deadlines would be appropriate.
Consequently, response times also differ, ranging from a few minutes to a maximum of 24 hours for messages on WhatsApp, up to the generally accepted 72 hours (3 days) waiting time for an e-mail.
Non-verbal cues help convey emotions and intentions. Emoticons, emojis, and punctuation marks can add context and clarify the tone of your message.
They are also a way of expressing oneself in an essential, clear and concise manner, as introduced earlier.
Example: Thumbs-up emoji can indicate a confident and positive tone of approval.
Example: When sending an e-mail summarising key points from a meeting, use bullet points as follows.
In addition to symbolism, also the effective use of formatting improves the readability of your messages. Use headings, bold or italicised text, bullet points, and numbered lists to better organise information and make it easier to understand.
Meeting’s key takeaways:
- Report to be delivered by December 15, 2023
- Dissemination to be improved with Press Releases’ publication
- Next online call: January 9, 2024
Proper Language, Tone and Netiquette in Online Interactions Click to read
Using appropriate language and tone is crucial to convey your message accurately, avoiding misunderstanding.
Be mindful of the words you choose and the tone you adopt to maintain positive and effective interactions. And be aware that online (writing) communication generally lacks of facial expressions and tone of voice. Therefore, proper language and tone have an increased impact on how your message is received.
In a global online community, it’s important to be sensitive regarding social and cultural differences, by utilising a respectful and inclusive language.
Prefer “I see your point, but I have a different perspective” to “You are wrong”, thus avoiding misunderstanding
Avoid using gender-specific terms or assumptions about someone’s background or identity – especially for religion or ethnicity.
Although for the proper language and tone there are no obvious differences between online and offline communication, let’s introduce the netiquette (online etiquette) as a set of rules that promote appropriate and responsible behaviour in online interactions.
These rules play a vital role in:
- Enhancing communication skills
- Preventing misunderstanding
- Providing guidelines on socially conduct when interacting and collaborating in a digital environment
Let’s focus on these rules and guidelines, including DO’s and DON’Ts.
- Choose proper grammar and punctuation
- Use appropriate formatting (bold, italic, paragraph, …)
- Integrate appropriate emojis and emoticons
- Always include a subject line
- Reply messages promptly
- K.I.S.S.: Keep it short & sweet
- Fact check before (re)posting
- Be cautions with sarcasm
- Respect the opinions, privacy and rights of others
- Don’t type in ALL CAPS (overuse)
- Don’t attack or don’t use aggressive language
- Never send spam
- Don’t overuse abbreviations
- Don’t share everywhere and to everyone (use discretion)
- “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you”
Guidelines for Practicing Mindful and Responsible Online Engagement Click to read
As engagement in digital platforms and social media starts and increases, it is important to be aware of potential risks, particularly for those new to the digital world or working on improving digital literacy skills.
Let’s explore the strategies for effectively managing these risks and provides guidelines for practicing mindful and responsible online engagement.
Key areas of concern that will be addressed include:
Overuse and Alienation – To avoid excessive use in terms of time, leading to alienation and a disruption of the balance between online and offline interaction, the following guidelines are provided to maintain a healthy and productive harmony:
- Set a daily maximum limit for online activities
- Use calendar apps, reminders, or browser / app extensions to schedule specific time slots
- Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly
Example: Use Instagram’s time limit built-in tool with alerts
- Avoid relying solely on online communication
- Foster deeper connections and prevent isolation
Example: Schedule regular face-to-face meetups with friends and family
- Incorporate regular offline activities into your routine
- Engage in hobbies, exercise, or spend time in nature
- Refresh your mind and enhance well-being
Acting based on FOMO – FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out, refers to the fear of not experiencing or participating in all available opportunities and the associated joy that comes with them. It is characterised by a curated and idealised perception of other people’s lives, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or anxiety.
FOMO’s key aspects include:
- Constant access to social media platforms
- Continuous scrolling through feeds to stay updated
- Constantly comparing oneself to others and losing touch with one’s own identity
To mitigate the effects of acting based on FOMO, consider the following guidelines:
- Set realistic expectations
- Engage in offline activities
- Utilise features (mute / unfollow) to reduce exposure
- Practice digital detox: Tech-free hours or days.
Sharing of Fake News – It leads to both an overall increase in misinformation (where FOMO has its greatest impact) and personal reputation damage (online reputation as a part of digital identity).
It is important to verify information before sharing it online à fact-checking.
Fact-checking involves evaluating the source by considering its credibility and checking if similar information is reported by reputable news outlets. Here are two practical tools for fact-checking:
It allows you to explore fake news by performing a keyword search. It has a section called 'recent fact checks' where you can find the most recent news already verified as fake.
A fact-checking website that focuses on debunking and exposing false information and hoaxes circulating online.
Summing up Click to read
Well done! Now you know more about:
Digital Identity Management: You have gained knowledge about the concept and elements of digital identity and how manage and safeguard it. You have explored the importance of personal information, credentials, online profiles, digital footprint, privacy settings and online reputation.
Responsible Online Behaviour: You have learned about practicing responsible online behaviour, following the rules established by netiquette. You have also taken note of the guidelines to avoid risks such as overuse and alienation, acting on FOMO, sharing Fake News.
Digital Literacy and Communication: You have developed digital literacy skills, enabling you to effectively navigate digital technologies, critically evaluate digital content, and communicate and collaborate online.